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Pinellas County preserves bring hikers on the road to discovery | Environment

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Pinellas County preserves bring hikers on the road to discovery
Pinellas County preserves bring hikers on the road to discovery

It’s all about the great outdoors at Pinellas County’s preserves, where trained guides are bringing folks on the road to discovery and where plenty of other programs are also planned to keep enthusiasts coming back for more.

Brooker Creek Preserve

Brooker Creek Preserve is known for the number of free guided hikes offered there. On Saturday, Nov. 2, 16, 23 and 30, hikers see how the land has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes on a 0.75 mile walk. Closed-toe shoes, water and hat recommended on this 90-minute hike beginning at 9 a.m. Best for ages 6 and older. Advance registration required.

Learn about the life of Lichen on Saturday, Nov. 2. Brooker Creek Preserve is home to many of Florida's fascinating lichens. Explore these unusual organisms during a classroom/outdoor activity. Study the natural history of lichen then take a stroll to view them around the Environmental Education Center. Identification tips, interesting facts and more await participants. 12:30 to 2 p.m.

A botany hike, best suited for adults, is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8 from 9 to 11 a.m.  A Brooker Creek naturalist will guide the group while exploring the fascinating plants found on the preserve and identifying wildflowers, ferns, epiphytes, trees and more. The ecology of various plant communities will also be examined. Come prepared with a camera and questions.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, bird-lovers will enjoy this 8 to 10:30 a.m. hike to identify common birds of Brooker Creek Preserve. Meander along the one-mile trail to gather information on the birds seen and heard. Binoculars will be helpful. Bring water.

Beginning at 9 a.m., join an experienced naturalist on Friday, Nov. 22 for this two-hour wildlife hike along boardwalks and natural trails at Brooker Creek Preserve. This will be a learning experience for everyone. Come prepared with binoculars, cameras, and questions. Questions the hike guide cannot answer will be researched in the Resource Room upon return to the Education Center.

On Saturday, Nov. 23, local photographers and master naturalists Karl and Kathleen Nichter, highlight seasonal features that will help participants capture the natural beauty of the Brooker Creek Preserve. After a brief classroom session, the group will hike the boardwalk and trails looking for those shots that reflect the season. This two-hour hike, beginning at 8:30 a.m. is recommended for adults and children 12 and older.

Beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday Nov. 7, 14 and 21, youngsters continue to be treated to the ever-popular Book-Time at Brooker. For 45 minutes, tots ages 3 to 5 have the opportunity to connect to the wonders of the natural world through stories and crafts, games or other hands-on activities.

Hosted by the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve, the Brooker Book Club continues to meet on the first Saturday of each month. Geared toward adults, the book list includes works by Florida authors, past and present, with archeology, biography, politics and history storylines. The book selected for discussion on Nov. 2 is The Control of Nature by John McPhee. This hour-long program, beginning at 9:30 a.m. is free. As seating is limited, advance registration is required.

Join Barbara Walker from Clearwater Audubon on Saturday, Nov. 9 for a "show and tell" about owls. This free 90-minute program beginning at 10:30 a.m. will include live animals and is great for the whole family.

Let’s talk about turkeys. There couldn't be a more appropriate time to learn about a beautiful bird that plays a significant role on our ecosystem and economy. On Saturday, Nov. 16 beginning at 10:30 a.m., Upland Gamebird Research Biologist Danny Caudill with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will present information about the wild turkey. Learn about turkey habitats, breeding behaviors, nesting and more in this 90-minute program.

Join the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve and get gardening hands dirty in the preserve’s wildflower garden on Saturday, Nov. 30. Bring garden gloves and hat. Morning snacks are usually provided. Free; advance registration required. 8 to 10 a.m.

Don’t miss Brooker Creek Preserve’s ongoing exhibit Windows to Our Wildest Place. These permanent, hands-on educational exhibits help visitors understand how natural Florida has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. Brooker Creek Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; closed all Pinellas County holidays. (727) 453-6800

Brooker Creek Preserve protects more than 8,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. The preserve, the horse trails and the Friends Trail are open daily and holidays.

The Environmental Education Center in the preserve features interactive exhibits and 22 discovery-oriented experiences that are fun for the entire family. The center is operated by the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on all Pinellas County holidays.

Weedon Island Preserve

Weedon Island Preserve continues the numerious opportunities available for hikers. Each Saturday in Hovember hikers can learn about the ecosystem and early residents of the preserve while hiking the coastal uplands and boardwalks through mangrove forests. This two-hour hike, beginning at 9 a.m. is best for ages 6 and older. Advance registration required. 

The Great Weedon Bird Quest is a popular hike. On Friday November 8, the group will learn the identifying marks and behaviors of our feathered year-round residents and seasonal visitors while assisting in compiling an annual checklist of the preserve's birds. This two-hour hike, starting at 8 a.m., is designed to take advantage of all levels of birding experience. Binoculars and bird guids are available. Advance registration is required.On Saturday, Nov. 2, Sweetwater Kayaks will share their expertise on the various types of paddlesports in Florida. The two-hour program begins at 9 a.m. in the auditorium and before moving to the waterfront where participants can test out the equipment. Advance registration is required.

Hike the preserve on Saturday, Nov. 16, in search of that perfect photo. This 8 to 10 a.m. hike provides great opportunities for photographers of all levels to hone their skills. After a brief classroom session, preserve volunteers highlight seasonal features of the preserve, as well as specific wildlife behaviors that help participants capture the natural beauty of Weedon Island Preserve.

What is known, not known and needed to be known are subjects explored in this Thursday, Nov. 7 Salty Topics series devoted to the rising sea level. During the 90-minute presentation beginning at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Don P. Chambers, associate professor at the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida will discuss various tools that have been used to observe sea level rise since the early 1700s and present a summary of what we know about sea level rise, especially new insight gleaned over the last two decades. Learn of the relationship of sea level rise to climate change, the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and what still needs to be understood in order to make more accurate sea level predictions in the future. Advance registration required.

What a waste, seeing rainwater pouring out of gutter downspouts then down the street. Learn how to save that water in this rainwater harvesting workshop best for ages 10 and older, then save the water in a recycled plastic drum to be used later in landscapes. During the 90-minute session beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 attendees will receive instructions and reference booklet, and will have the option of purchasing a rain barrel. Please register in advance.

On Thursday, Nov. 21 the Archaeology Lecture Series continues with the archaeology of beer, a look from Ethiopia and beyond. This 7 to 8 p.m. presentation looks at the evidence of beer in the archaeological record from China, Egypt, Nubia, Mesopotamia, and the Americas, and whether beer may have been a factor in the domestication of grains. In addition to the archaeological evidence, the importance of beer among many indigenous societies for daily food but also as a ritual lubricant during feasts will be discussed. Advance registration requested.

This Archaeology Works Series is devoted to food and presented on Saturday, Nov.23. Foods we eat say a lot about who we are – one family’s comfort food might be another’s worst nightmare. Just like other artifacts that archaeologists find, food remains tell much about past people’s diet, environment and culture. During this 10 a.m. to noon program, learn how archaeologists study tiny bits of food to learn about people in the past then try your hand at identifying different animal bones and seeds that might have made up an ancient meal.

Wee-Time at Weedon is a program designed to introduce preschool children to the wonders of the natural and cultural world. The second and fourth Thursday of each month, children are treated to a variety of stories and hands-on activities that connect them to their environment. This 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. activity is recommended for ages 3 to 5.

The Connecting People and Place exhibit continues. This art-inspired, permanent hands-on educational exhibit reveals the area’s history, ecology and people. Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; closed all Pinellas County holidays. (727) 453-6500; www.weedonislandpreserve.org.

Weedon Island Preserve protects more than 3,700 acres of natural ecosystems and is located at 1800 Weedon Drive NE in St. Petersburg. The preserve is operated under the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Department and is open to the public seven days a week, including holidays, from 7 a.m. to 15 minutes before sunset. Its many outdoor activities include walking trails, a fishing pier and a canoe/kayak launch.

Pinellas County Extension offers classes, programs and activities at the Cultural and Natural History Center. The center features the permanent exhibit, Connecting People and Place, an art-inspired, hands-on educational exhibit which reveals the area’s history, ecology and people. The center is open Thursday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed all Pinellas County holidays.

To learn more about Weedon Island Preserve and its upcoming programs and events, call (727) 453-6500. To register for programs and events visit www.weedonislandpreserve.org. Videos featuring Weedon Island Preserve can be viewed at www.youtube.com/pcctv1.

Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in an event or class, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. At least seven days prior to the event or class, please contact the Office of Human Rights, 400 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Suite 500, Clearwater, FL 33756, (727) 464-4062 (Voice/TDD).

For more information about Pinellas County services and programs, visit www.pinellascounty.org, now with LiveChat, or create a shortcut to www.pinellascounty.org/mobile on any smartphone. Pinellas County government is on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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